Overseas visitor boom

17 August 2004
Overseas visitor boom

Overseas visitors to the UK increased by 15% between April and June this year, with the biggest rise in visitors coming from emerging and new markets, according to Government figures.

Tourism body VisitBritain said nearly seven million tourists visited the UK in the period. Kenny Boyle, director of International Marketing at VisitBritain, said: "Anecdotal evidence from our partners in the industry suggests that much of the increased growth in this month's figures is coming from new and emerging markets - such as Russia and China - rather than the traditionally high-spending North Americans."

During the three months, tourists from North America grew by 20%, while the numbers from Western Europe grew by 11%, despite an 11% dip in June.

But the biggest rise (29%) came from Eastern Europe and long-haul destinations in the rest of the world. Spending by overseas visitors during the quarter grew by 13% to £3.1b.

In the first six months of the year, visitor numbers have grown by 13% to 12.5 million and expenditure by 9% to £5.4b - still 5% down on 2000, before the following year's foot-and-mouth outbreak and the terrorist attacks of 11 September.

Barclays leisure expert Rod Taylor said the increase had coincided with a strong pound, underlining the fact that "there is a genuine appetite among overseas tourists to visit the UK".

He added that London's large three-star hotels were benefiting from coach parties from Eastern Europe, albeit at £40-a-night bed and breakfast.

UK Tourism - year to date

NO OF VISITORS (000s)% change 04/03
Total 12,480 +13
North America2,070+16
Western Europe8,190 +11
Rest of world 2,210+22
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